Saturday, November 08, 2008


The Breitenbach family draws names each Christmas. It works like this: around autumn somebody will be inspired to rip up several small scraps of paper, write the various names of the Breitenbach Family Singers on them, hastily fold them and finally ask a volunteer to step forward and choose names for the rest of us. You're then responsible for providing a Christmas gift for that relative. A lot of families do this. There inevitably comes a point when things like leaving home, graduating from college, moving and starting a family all conspire to make the purchasing of gifts for each member of your birth family and their progeny (to say nothing of your own offspring) completely infeasible. Us Breitenbach's have gone from 6 to 15 (soon 16!) in less then 15 years.

So one buyer, one receiver. We keep the price to what seems an appropriately modest cap of $75. My Dad drew my name this year. When he and my Mom came to visit a couple weeks ago I told him exactly what I want. About 20 years ago my Dad borrowed a film splicer, combed through his grocery bag of 30 or so reels of Super-8 family films he shot from the late 60's through the early 80's, and combined some of what he thought was the best footage into a couple larger reels. I want him to digitize those suckers! Film stock is notorious for giving itself over to the ravages of time-- it decomposes, its picture begins to fade, it threatens to crumble. Given my love of the grainy poetic texture and glimpses of family folklore Super-8 films reveal, I'm worried about the state of these reels.

Besides that, I have no idea what's on these films. We had a projector and screen. I remember my brothers, fleeting amateur Super-8 auteur's themselves, playing these films down in our basement in the late 70's. But it's been over 25 years.

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